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Holding Swing Training

March 13, 1986|STEVE HENSON

The bases were loaded when ball met bat and sailed over the fence at Simi Valley High.

Hank Robinson, 62-year-old coach of the Southern California Baseball Assn. team that benefited from the hit, wasn't impressed.

"Yeah, well, the dimensions at Simi are short," Robinson said. "And that lefty served it right up."

Everyone else was astonished, however, because it was Robinson trotting around the bases. He had slugged the grand slam off a pitcher young enough to be his grandson.

Robinson only takes a couple of cuts a year, but he supervises the swings of many of the best high school players in the Valley area.

During the SCBA season, which ran from September to February, Robinson's roster included Dave Milstein, Shaun Murphy, Devon Herron, Dave Sullivan and Scott Sharts from Simi Valley, Grant's Rodney Beck and Jason Peterson, Westlake's Matt Franco and Jim Henderson, Polytechnic's Tim Hunt and Providence's Jeff Cirillo.

Sharts, a 6-5 sophomore, testified to Robinson's expertise.

"He's an old-fashioned baseball guy who teaches with a different style than high school coaches," Sharts said. "Hank opened my stance so I could pull the ball with greater power."

Robinson, a stunt man and actor who played in the minor leagues for 18 years, draws from many sources for his hitting theories.

"Like Babe Herman told me when I played on the same club as a kid," Robinson said, "Never have a doubt that you're gonna hit the ball. The secret is to hit it in the middle.

"A hitting coach can look at a kid, see what's wrong and make an adjustment. It's difficult to generalize, but a player must hit through the middle of the ball with a level swing and hit it where it's pitched."

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